Following Auld Boab's 6 weeks as guest writer on "Throwback", I am delighted to have another long-time Pars fan, Sammer, take over the reigns for the next 6 weeks. Sammer will give his own first-hand accounts of games from the period 1964 to 1973. Here, in part 1, he looks back on a Pars v Hibs game from 1964.
Dateline: 11th August, 1964
Match: Dunfermline 2 Hibernian 0
Charts: House of the Rising Sun
A new season is about optimism, possibility, rebirth. This was the first home game of season 1964/65, a midweek League Cup tie with Jock Stein’s Hibernian, and there was no Charlie Dickson. Saturday had been no aberration. He was dropped. The man who had taken the number 9 jersey on his debut, the very month I was born, and worn it ever since. The man who had routed George Young, embarrassed Bobby Evans, unsettled Brian Labone. The man who had walked round Haffey in ’61 and brought a whole town out onto the streets that unforgettable April night. The man who had scored in the very first game I ever attended. The man I had seen bang in five goals in a cup tie. This seemed more like death than birth. A pensioner wearing a bunnet tried to console me.
Charlie’s feenished, son. He’s feenished.
I’d heard the talk. Talk that Charlie’s bounding, ostrich stride had lost a little spring, as had his legendary leaping for crosses. Of an injury he could not shake off. So now, it had come to this. Charlie’s time was up.
To replace Dickson, Cunningham had bought three replacements- McLaughlin, Ferguson and Kilgannon - players who had decent scoring records but mostly in the lower division. The Ferguson swap for Dan McAlindon received some grudging approval: That’s better value. The support had never really taken to McAlindon, picking up on a wild rumour that he only got selected because he was married into Stein’s family.
The teams were:
1 .Herriott 1. Wilson
2. Callaghan 2. Fraser
3. Lunn 3. Leishman
4. Smith 4. Stanton
5. McLean 5. MacNamee
6. Millar 6. Stevenson
7. Edwards 7. Hogg
8. Ferguson (30) 8. Hamilton
9. McLaughlin (44) 9. Martin
Attacking the Halbeath End, this was a new, lively Pars side, displaying a hunger Hibernian struggled to match. The team appeared younger than before. Gone was the post-war austerity look of Dickson and Peebles who you could imagine in army fatigues, rifles on shoulder, cheerfully doing some square-bashing as a Sergeant Major bellowed across the courtyard. Sinclair, Edwards and Ferguson were sharper, wore Italian suits, sported smart haircuts, probably listened to The Shadows or The Beatles rather than Shirley Bassey or Frank Sinatra.
It was a well-balanced team too. George Millar dropped back to cover McLean, thoroughbred Alex Smith was joined by workhorse Melrose in midfield, Edwards developed play from wide right, Sinclair went direct on the left. Full backs Callaghan, with pace, and Lunn, with power, pushed up in support of attacks. Here was a more attacking approach than the cagey, measured style that had been developed under Stein. Cunningham’s Pars, playing open, attacking football, were now over-powering the Hibs’ tactical master. The Pars’ thin black and white stripes, flashing under the floodlights, seemed to emphasise an electric quality to their approach play, to exaggerate their speed of movement and thought.
Both Ferguson and McLaughlin had scored on their debuts and there were to score again this evening. McLaughlin was a burly centre forward who could play with his back to goal and was quite prepared to mix it with Big Bad John MacNamee, a centre half who tested physical courage before he got around to skill. Ferguson was slim, restless and looking to dart through the channels while keeping away from MacNamee. When Edwards slipped a ball round the side of the left back, McLaughlin ran into the space before flighting an inviting cross into the 6 yard box. Ferguson was already up waiting, like all good headers of a ball, having split the central defenders. He headed down, powerfully, in text book fashion, to Wilson’s left and the crowd roared their approval of a genuine striker. It looked uncannily like a header from Charlie D. There was never any doubt after that- Ferguson would score goals.
Just before half time his striking partner McLaughlin, around the penalty spot, pulled down a sharp pass from Melrose on his thigh. As the ball came off the ground, McLaughlin put his left foot through it and the ball exploded into the roof of the net. A spectacular strike, and from his weaker foot too.
There nobody could hit a baw like that since Wardhaugh.
And from under the bunnet. Aye, and he was feenished when he come.
So, 2-0 at half time and 2-0 it ended.
Hibs did not just have a good manager, they had some very good players. Stanton, Cormack and Willie Hamilton were international quality. Hamilton, sweating profusely under the floodlights, probed, twisted, dribbled, earning purrs of admiration from the terraces, many fans recalling a performance he had given at EEP in his Sheffield United days, the first floodlit match at EEP. Neil Martin was to score 100 league goals both sides of the border, MacNamee and Jim Scott (along with Sinclair) won the Fairs Cities’ Cup with Newcastle a few years later. However, the evening belonged to Cunningham’s invigorating Pars side. This was our taster of the greatest season Dunfermline Athletic would have in their history, of a team which so nearly won the double of League and Cup.
In hindsight, George Miller’s transfer to Wolves early in the season probably cost us that Double. You don’t sell your captain if you want to win trophies. Then again, with DAFC paying the highest wages outside the Old Firm, and with no big European gate the season before, the money was simply too inviting to turn down. It took two players - Jim Thomson as a defender and Tommy Callaghan as a driving midfielder- to replace Miller. That reduced the options up front, although unusually for the time, Cunningham rotated his players to keep the team fresh. Kilgannon and Paton came in and delivered goals, as did Melrose who bagged all five when played as a striker against Falkirk. Peebles was a reliable option on either wing while Smith could be deployed deep or behind the forwards.
This team went on to score 83 League goals yet remained as tight defensively as Stein’s sides, Cunningham’s credo being that attack was the best form of defence. The quality of football displayed at EEP in victories over Hearts (3-2), Rangers (3-1), Celtic (5-1) and in the semi final defeat of Hibs (2-0) was surely as good as any Pars side has ever produced and it was first displayed that warm, August evening in 1964. Next month came two major events: the opening of The Forth Road Bridge saw the traditional, much loved ferry boats removed from service and Harold Wilson became Prime Minister, promising the white heat of modernisation. It seemed like old news. I had the feeling I’d seen them both already.
Part 2 of Sammer Looks Back will be posted next Wednesday.